Adam Westbrook, judge in the new Digital Film section of the PPY annual awards, gives his take on the winners along with those of the fellow judges – ’24’ Director of Photography Rodney Charters ASC and Dslrnewsshooter’s Dan Chung.
As more and more photographers, often armed with video-capable DSLR cameras, move into the world of multimedia we’re seeing a new, and exciting, visual style emerge.
Combining a photographer’s eye for a fantastic image, and a commitment to creative storytelling, it is one of the most exciting areas in modern journalism. This has been highlighted for Dan Chung, Rodney Charters and myself as we judged this year’s ‘Digital Cinema’ category in the Press Photographer’s Year Awards.
Watching a selection of entries I really sensed a desire to move away from the look and feel of traditional video and television journalism. We see more character stories, more creative shots and brave treatments – yet still rooted firmly within photojournalism.
This year’s winning entry was a really unique style of storytelling from The Guardian in London, which grabbed me particularly:
Part of Laura Barton’s Barton’s Britain series, it was shot by Felix Clay and edited by Elliot Smith & Shehani Fernando. You might think, on first glance, there’s not much to this, especially compared to other submissions, which included films shot in Afghanistan. Members of the panel were captivated by it – here’s my personal comment on the entry:
“Barton’s Britain: The Bridgewater Canal is the result of a videographer clearly in love with images and a reporter in love with words. Every shot is framed with a photographers eye, and Laura Barton’s script guides the viewer into an enchanting world of pastoral England.
“Worthy of note are the wonderful colours, the subtle musical elements and, in particular, a clear separation from the traditional formulaic ways of doing video & television. Sound has not been overlooked either and the audio of water rippling along the canal edge goes a long way to rounding off the scenes.
“Even though this is not hard news as we know it, as a piece of digital cinema, ‘The Bridgewater Canal’ is the only film which took me somewhere and made me feel something.’
The affordability of high quality gear and the ability to publish for free ought to see more passion pieces like this – the internet and the style lend themselves perfectly to this kind of storytelling.
We were also really impressed by this entry from Heathcliff O’Malley.
As his first attempt at video film making with a DSLR it is extremely brave and ambitious and particularly impressed Rodney:
“Given that they were all about to come under fire I am not surprised he didn’t wander about looking for great angles however I sense he is a great shooter and he is exactly the kind of guy who needs encouragement in what is a brave new field of hybrid war cinematography on the front lines.”
In an area with sometimes more debate than anything else, it’s great to see some solid examples of pioneering video storytelling. The Press Photographers Year proves not only do photojournalists have a real desire to move to multimedia, they have a great skill for it too.
Felix, Laura and Heathcliff’s work should act as an inspiration to any journalists looking to expand into video storytelling as well.
The Press Photographer’s Year competition is sponsored by Canon and a full list of winners along with a gallery of the fantastic images can be seen here.
You can read more of Adam’s musing on the world of new media over on his blog and he has published and e-book titled ‘Next Generation Journalist’